It was quite a contrast.
Last Tuesday evening, Americans tuned into their nightly news reports, expecting the usual media build up to the president's State of the Union address.
Instead, they sat there for hours watching newscasters frantically report on a standoff with the country's most infamous fugitive, Christopher Dorner, at an isolated cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains of California. Viewers witnessed that cabin literally burn to the ground with him inside before their eyes as they ate their dinner.
And the sensational, massive manhunt that captured America's attention for days for the former Los Angeles police officer wanted in a series of killings was apparently over.
After hiding for several days, Dorner, who was accused of a crime spree that left four people dead, including two officers, and several others wounded in shootings in L.A. and nearby San Bernardino County, made a break for it on Tuesday.
After an initial firefight that day with police, Dorner was cornered in a rustic mountain cabin. Surrounded, he exchanged gun fire with an army of law enforcement that surrounded him for hours, emptying hundreds of rounds of ammunition, before the cabin exploded into flames.
As the events in the mountains dramatically unfolded, the news otherwise continued, with anchormen laying out the basics of the president's upcoming address from advanced copies of his speech.
It was indeed an unusual stark contrast between the ending of a violent saga of a once good man who sought revenge for alleged wrongs and unfairness perpetrated on him and his good name by an unjust "American system," and the upcoming fight between Obama and his GOP opposition for the hearts and minds of a downtrodden, tired American middle class.
Superficially, the plight of Chris Dorner could be, and was, easily characterized and sensationalized as just another example of a disgruntled employee going "postal" or just yet another mentally ill killer like those whose victims watched the president's address at the nation's Capitol Tuesday night.
But that angry, very deadly man that apparently chose to burn to death in that mountain cabin was much more than just a disturbed person who was able to collect an arsenal of weapons and go to battle against innocents.
After Dorner began his violent rampage last week he authored an online manifesto on his Facebook page that expressed his angst with how society had mistreated him as well as detailing his version of the wrongs perpetrated against him in losing his job as a police officer, how he was going to extract revenge, and who he was going to target to kill.
"I'm not an aspiring rapper, I'm not a gang member, I'm not a dope dealer, I don't have multiple babies momma's. I am an American by choice, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a military service member, I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me," wrote Dorner.
The American Dream was dead for Dorner, and it has died for many Americans too. Despite the empty rhetoric targeting the plight of the middle class, our daily life in this country is too hard, too impersonal, too demeaning, and devoid of true opportunity and fairness, rich or poor, young and old alike. His anger and complaints, minus the killing and the bloodshed, are what truly need to be addressed by our governmental leaders.
There's a little of Christopher Dorner, without the violence, in all of us. That terrible loss of faith in this country expressed in Dorner's manifesto, and experienced daily by many disgruntled Americans these days, is the true state of our union.
An edited version of this article appeared in the Sun Sentinel on February 14, 2013
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